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August 26th, 2004
Young, Muslim, and French
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  • Tariq Mahmood

    Europe has a justified reason to fear the advent of Islam into the continent. For over one millinnium they felt besieged by Muslim powers to east and south of Europe. Even thogh most of the Muslims have been colonies or under plain control of European powers. They owever were scared not for any reason.

    With advent of globalisation, development of technology and uprooting of large sections of Muslims due to wars and internal disturbances Muslims in increasing numbers are migrating to Europe and North America, areas that are safer than ther own hmelands. This phenonmenon introduces ew dimensions to the social fabric and cultural fabric of Europe and North America.
    The change brings in its wake raections of varying degrees. Europeans feel threatened. They feel soon they would be over whelmed by alien cultures.

    The tension can be eased if the two groups try to know each other. This can possibly be done by getting closer together. Familiarity does not breed contempt alone; it also develops understanding and mutual confidence.

    False propaganda from the two sides should be kept low.

  • Pamela Chin

    As an immigrant in the US, I know and have felt discrimination from the majority. However, I also realize that I am living in a country with established customs and culture. Who am I to try and change this? Education is key…if however, your culture does not value education above religious beliefs, then of course you will have problems. Don’t blame French society for your failings. Like the teacher in the program, he is a moderate muslim because he was highly educated and was able to find a decent job. Education leads to a respectable profession. Having a respectable profession will lead to a higher standard of living & respect. That is how the world works, regardless of what country you live in the world. I have a feeling that if these muslims were living in an Islamic country, their livelihoods wouldn’t be much different than what they are now in France, if not worse.

  • Stinger

    Hi,
    My main question would be why the other 25 recommendations by the French Commission weren’t accepted and only the headscarf ban was enforced?

    The French Republic and its laws should be respected by all French citizens no matter what their faith. The main challenge is that these laws shouldn’t discriminate against any one group of people. With all the energy and debate put into this one topic, if the same energy was placed in fixing the soci-economic problems faced by minorities, France would have made major headway in alleviating all these problems.

    At the root of these problems is a lack of understanding between people. Muslim majority nations never needed to overthrow corrupt religious leaders who were in seats of power because it was often these leaders who were persecuted by the Political leadership. There is a strong theme of Republicanism in Islamic teachings, to not accept corrupt leadership. Therefore, there is more common ground between French and Islamic cultures than people may think, this talk about civil-war is dangerous and counter-productive.

  • Concerned European

    You have it exactly right Pamela. They immigrate to our lands of rich history and culture and expect us to change our ways to suit them. If they desire a Muslim nation, then that is where they should reside. It’s their choice to come here. We will not change our heritage and irreplaceable culture for them or anyone else.

  • Critical view

    The idea of integration in itself is a very ethnocentric ideology. All cultures are changing and transforming. In a world of globalization and mass communications, how we expect 2nd and 3rd generation citizens “to integrate” into a culture that is already their’s. Instead, empowering all French citizens to learn about other cultures, the French government igorned 25 recommendations upholding their idea of equality in favor of a 1 recommendation that villifies and segregates a significant part of modern French culture. The ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity-are to embrace changes, embrace others as brothers, and search towards an egalitarian society…The headscarf ban is leading a path towards a segregated and unequal society. The choice to wear a religious symbol, is a choice of freedom. Why should a woman who wants to be a general doctor for women be berated, however a gynecologist (also only a doctor of women) is completely accepted. Is France truly working towards equality or hiding behind the facade of secularism to maintain status quo stagnant culture?

  • Walt Perkins III

    This debate between French nationalism and Islamic religious tradition has exposed many disturbing features of US massive resistance to the full integration of African Americans into American society.

  • Merlyn James

    I am trying to understand the both sides of the story, My understanding is the French school do not want students to wear their veils and if your come to their country your should do as they do. Its’ good in the sense that they want everyone to look like them and do like the the French people. But on the other hand its bad because it is dividing people and their cultures. In todays global society we should be equally happy and appreciate change(French people). Everyone is entitled to a choice so let them make tha choice they want. embrace each other culture and appreciate each other.

  • Shirley A.

    The issue of the headscarf (hijab) is clearly a political issue and based on the video, the principal has the discretion to permit the students to wear the hijab. What is baffling to me is that the principal allows the students to wear a bandana, but not the hijab. It makes no sense. Further, the one teacher that supports the students also mentioned other students have wore inappropriate attire to school and no action have been taken against them. In May 2004, in the matter of Eyvine Hearn, et.al, United States of America versus Muskogee Public School District 020, et.al, the court entered a consent decree guaranteeing girls the right to wear headscarves to school as a religious accommodation. In addition, there is distinct parallel of some of the issues confronting the young people in France to the young people in the United States of America that is very disturbing.

  • Mary

    The issue of the hijab or headscarf is not simply political, it is also gendered and religious. I find the failure of mainstream society to respect the Moslem females’ right to wear the hijab interesting: I believe the intolerance of mainstream society for the hijab is an expression of mainstream society’s anxiety about the limitations of its own patriarchal power over feminine and Moslem identity. In this case the feminine Moslem identity should be allowed to exist as a part of mainstream society and at the same time as independent of mainstream society. If mainstream society allowed the Moslem females free expression of their gendered and religious identity then mainstream society could actually express itself as strong, instead of anxious and weak about allowing the free expression of Moslem womens’ sense of religious and gendered identity.

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